30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 8: What constitutes a Dodgers-certified Hollywood Star these days? It can’t be the same as 50 years ago

The 1979 game when Robin Williams played in the Hollywood Stars Game -- and ran the bases backwards.

The 1979 game when Robin Williams played in the Hollywood Stars Game — and ran the bases backwards.

The book: “Bats, Balls, and Hollywood Stars: Hollywood’s Love Affair with Baseball”
The author: Joe Siegman
The vital statistics: Educator’s International Press, 124 pages, $34.95
Find it: On Amazon.com, on Barnesandnoble.com, on powells.com.

jacket.aspxThe pitch: The Dodgers’ 2015 pro-
motional calendar
includes all kinds of giveaways — 10 bobble-
heads, an assortment of fleece blankets, collectable pins, caps, T-shirts … all the usual stuff that will get people to come through the metal detectors.
And then there’s  return of the Hollywood Stars Night, set for Saturday, June 6, prior to the Dodgers-Cardinals game.
We’ll believe it when we see it.
An event that was once a signature event on the Dodgers’ calendar didn’t necessarily jump the shark — although Henry Winkler could have been there to do it — but it wasn’t as important in the Frank McCourt Era after he purchased the franchise from Fox in the early 2000s.
In 2004, McCourt, who “appeared to know nothing about Hollywood Stars Night,” as Siegman writes in the final chapter of this coffee-table sized book, had told Siegman and  partner Jack Gilardi, orchestrators of the annual event since the mid-1960s, that their services were no longer needed. It had devolved into something of an MTV-type B-list celeb softball game, and the Dodgers’ in-house staff could easily take care of booking it.
Or not.
In 2010, Siegman and Gilardi were asked to come back and plan a Hollywood Stars Night, to be played in August. But two weeks before it was to happen, it was canceled. Then it was pushed to the final weekend of the season. Then it was dropped altogether.
“The game has ended,” Siegman writes, “but the memories linger on.”
Those memories, in words and more importantly photos, are pulled together by the entertainment publicist and producer who could call on his connections to bring all kinds of Hollywood hotshots onto the field to play what was actually a decent brand of baseball.
Siegman explaines that the genesis of the event came from a Hollywood Entertainers League made up of actors, agents, writers, publicists and friends that played competitively in the early 1960s, getting together at the Mandeville Canyon High School or Hamilton High School fields on Sunday mornings. With the help of the Dodgers’ marketing guru Danny Goodman, the event became a Dodger Stadium regular event and grew in popularity during an era where it was Hollywood hip to be into baseball. Continue reading

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30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 7: Man up with Matheny’s ‘manifesto’ … or else don’t

Mike Matheny, right, meets Don Mattingly before the Cardinals-Dodgers 2013 NLCS.

Mike Matheny, right, meets Don Mattingly before the Cardinals-Dodgers 2013 NLCS.

The book: “The Matheny Manifesto: A Young Manager’s Old-School Views on Success in Sports and Life”
The author: Mike Matheny, with Jerry B. Jenkins
The vital statistics: Crown Archetype Books, 224 pages, $24
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Barnesandnoble.com, at Powells.com

B9Bhq2OIIAMMtO5.jpg largeThe pitch: You’re familiar with “The Dodger’s Way to Play Baseball.” Al Campanis wrote the book on that more than 60 years ago.
So now consider the Matheny way, for those who didn’t grow up with such a guidebook to how the game is played.
In the three years since Matheny took over for the retired Tony LaRussa as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals after the 2011 World Series championship season, the franchise has been to three straight National League Championship Series, won two NL Central Division championships and played in a World Series.
As a player, Matheny caught more than 1,300 games over 13 seasons, five of them in St. Louis. And desipte a less-than-stellar .239 lifetime career batting average, he won four Gold Glove awards as a catcher, and played in the post-season three times – all with St. Louis, in 2001, ’02 and ’04.
Even with a series of serious concussions that led to his playing career ending when he was 35, we give him the benefit of the doubt that he has forgotten more about how the game is played than we’ll ever know.
But what this “Matheny Manefesto” proves is that he’s remembered plenty enough to get it down in writing and boil it down to what matters most.
You can’t emphasize enough how much a parent of a Little Leaguer – or any youth sport participant – needs to face the cold, hard facts of what Matheny first lays down and then explains about how the game should be played.
The book is the byproduct of a five-page, single-spaced letter he once wrote in 2008 to a group of parents who had asked him to coach their kids’ team. The team included Matheny’s own 10-year-old son.
Yet Matheny had one problem – the parents. And he told them so, in not just a pointed presentation, but one that explained why he felt the way he did.
“Dear Fellow Parents:
“I’ve always said I would coach only a team of orphans. Why? Because the biggest problem in youth sports is the parents …”
Oh, that’s going to go over well. Continue reading

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30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 6: More than 100 ways to look up who’s on first on Opening Day… and where does Matt Kemp play again?

IMG_3157The book: “100 Years of Who’s Who in Baseball”
The author: The staff of “Who’s Who in Baseball” and Douglas B. Lyons
The vital statistics: Lyons Press, 204 pages, $24.95
Find it: On amazon.com, on barnesandnoble.com, on powells.com

919yy4MAxdLThe pitch: The coverboy of the 2015 edition of this annual red, black and silver, ink-drenched newsprint magazine/book that now is requesting a $9.95 fee is the Angels’ Mike Trout.
Last year, it was Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw on the front.
One hundred years from now, we hope it looks, and reads, just as dopey and stale as it does today.
Anytime anything lasts 100 years, it’s worth a celebration. This book may not rise to the occasion to make such a milestone memorable, but maybe based on its track record, that’s all we should have been expecting.
The forward by Marty Appel, adding the historic context to this annual project that simply alphabetizes the basic statistical information you’d find on the guy’s baseball card or BaseballRefence.com profile, turns out to be the most enlightening part of this whole publication.
Otherwise, the annual year in a review that Lyons writes in retrospect of each year, and the season that the coverboy had to merit his elevated status, leaves a lot to be desired. Continue reading

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Play It Forward April 6-12: How would James Shields look in Dodgers’ rotation now?

Brooke Schneider, a Dodgers fan from Thousand Oaks, is on the rail attempting to get the attention of  Clayton Kershaw during  a spring training game in Peoria, Ariz. With Derek Jeter gone, who will reign as the face of the majors? Could be Clayton Kershaw. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Brooke Schneider, a Dodgers fan from Thousand Oaks, is on the rail attempting to get the attention of Clayton Kershaw during a spring training game in Peoria, Ariz. With Derek Jeter gone, who will reign as the face of the majors? Could be Clayton Kershaw. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

THIS WEEK’S BEST BETS:

MLB OPENING DAY:
DODGERS vs. SAN DIEGO
Details/TV: Dodger Stadium, Monday at 1 p.m., SportsNet L.A.
ANGELS at SEATTLE
Details/TV: Monday at 1 p.m., Fox Sports West:

James Shields arrives as the San Diego Padres' new ace. (AP photo)

New San Diego resident James Shields arrives as the Padres’ new ace, which he would not have been with the Dodgers. (AP photo)

How much was James Shields on the Dodgers’ radar this last off season? The former Hart High of Santa Clarita star, who has already pitched in two World Series for two different teams in his nine big-league seasons, was one of the best arms available this past free-agent window. Things became a bit more curious as December rolled into January, and then early February – no one was biting. Finally, the bold-move San Diego Padres decided to snatch up the 33-year-old in a four-year, $75 million deal. And look where he’ll make his 2015 debut? “That was the only stadium, growing up, that I went to,” said Shields of Dodger Stadium. “It’s definitely going to be pretty surreal. But I’m sure once the game starts, I’ll lock in.” And tune out all the family members he has there? The former ace of the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals makes his seventh Opening Day start, although he’s just 1-2 with a 5.05 ERA in those appearances. San Diego, for all it did in adding Shields, plus a new outfield of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton and Wil Myers, only tacked on an addition $10 million to their 2014 $90 million payroll. That was until the team made another bold move Sunday in adding All-Star reliever Craig Kimbrel. Think the Dodgers couldn’t use Kimbrel right about now, too? The Dodgers and their record-breaking $272 million roster send reigning NL Cy Young and MVP winner Clayton Kershaw to make his fifth straight opening day start. He’s got a 3-0 record in Game 1 appearances, including a win in Melbourne, Australia last season. His only opening day non-win was a no-decision in the Dodgers’ 5-3 victory over the Padres at Petco Park in 2012.
la-sp-sn-jered-weaver-angels-tigers-20130627-001Over in the AL West, the Seattle Mariners have gained a lot of attention as a playoff contender, led by former Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez. He’s making his seventh straight Opening Day start and eighth overall, posing a 5-0 mark and 1.52 ERA in those games. With Jered Weaver starting for the Angels, this is a rematch of the 2014 Opening Day, when the Mariners won, 10-3, in Seattle as Hernandez struck out 11 in six innings. Weaver struck out six in his six innings but gave up four runs (three earned) and three walks. Weaver, beginning his 10th big-league season, makes his sixth straight Opening Day start, and seventh in his career, the most in franchise history. He’s 3-2 in Opening Day.

The Dodgers-Padres series continues Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 p.m., SportsNet L.A. The Dodgers then go to Arizona for three games (Friday and Saturday at 6:30 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m.)
The Angels-Mariners series continues Tuesday and Wednesday, 7 p.m., Fox Sports West. The Angels’ home opener is Friday at 7 p.m. (FSW) against defending AL champion Kansas City, with games Saturday (6 p.m., FS1) and Sunday (12:30 p.m., FSW).

Also: Live MLB coverage of Monday’s Opening Day has Toronto at New York Yankees (10 a.m., ESPN), New York Mets at Washington (1 p.m., ESPN), Cleveland at Houston (4 p.m., ESPN) and San Francisco at Arizona (7 p.m., ESPN2).

ALSO THIS WEEK: Continue reading

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30 baseball books for April ’15, Day 5: The 101 places you’ll visit again … with new discoveries

Pull up a chair at the Simpson's statues at the Albuquerque Isotopes' home field. (www.bloggerstobenamedlater.com)

Pull up a chair at the Simpson’s statues at the Albuquerque Isotopes’ home field. (www.bloggerstobenamedlater.com)

The book: “101 Baseball Places To See Before You Strike Out: Second Edition”
The author: Josh Pahigian
The vital statistics: Lyons Press
Find it: On amazon.com, on barnesandnoble.com, on powells.com

61sUah7yAnLThe pitch: You’ve had seven years since the first edition came out to hit all 101 places that Pahigan pitched the first time. Or, at least read about them and pretend.
Some stops were obvious. Many were so obscure, you just had to imagine when the heck you might ever get there.
And now, there’s more.
With 25 more places here that weren’t in the first edition, it means 25 places that were once vital visits aren’t any longer.
Some of that is because the places aren’t around any longer – Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant and Sports Bar in New York, and Joe DiMaggio’s Italian Chophouse in San Francisco and the ESPN Zone/Babe Ruth Photomosaic in New York’s Times Square have disappeared. Same with Lenny Dykstra’s Car Wash in Simi Valley.
Hey, stuff happens. They’re all washed up.
Pink’s Hot Dog stand on La Brea and Melrose made it at No. 72 in book one. Why it was left out of book two? Maybe because it just got out-wienered.
And don’t assume just because the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown remains the No. 1 destination spot in both books that the chapter from the first edition was just re-purposed in the second edition. The number of artifacts in the Hall has increased from 35,000 to nearly 40,000.
As far as rankings go, the Negro League Baseball Museum has swapped places with the “Field of Dreams” movie site – from Nos. 2 and 3.
The L.A. Coliseum has moved up from No. 80 to No. 56. San Diego’s Carroll B. Land Stadium has made a tremendous leap from No. 69 to No. 25. Continue reading

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